Have you ever loved someone or something so much that you couldn’t find the words to explain it?
Have you ever felt truly connected to someone that you don’t even know?
If so, then you understand how I feel about Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. For 25 years, he has been my favorite. Over this time, almost everything in my life has changed – but my love for Steven remains the same. I often thought that meeting him would somehow calm or even diminish my feelings, but I was wrong. We met in 2016 and it was one of the greatest days of my life. Having met him again in May 2018, I think it’s safe to say nothing can change the way I feel.
In 1993, I was a chubby, buck-toothed 12-year-old. I wasn’t sure where I belonged or who I was. But when a friend gave me the newly released Aerosmith album Get A Grip, it changed my life. Not only did Get a Grip give us the insanely cool music videos for “Cryin’” and “Crazy” (featuring a pre-Clueless Alicia Silverstone); it also featured the thought provoking “Livin’ On the Edge” and the kiss-my-ass attitude of “Eat the Rich.” The music was fun, it was different, and damn if Steven Tyler wasn’t sexy. Even then I felt it, even if I didn’t really know what “it” was. I just knew that when he sang, I listened. And he made me happy. I started reading about Aerosmith and Steven’s onstage persona. I was fascinated by the fact that his drug and alcohol addiction didn’t kill him. I loved that he spoke in riddles and rhymes.
All of the men (boys?) I found interesting up to that point had served a very specific and very adolescent purpose. Jordan Knight of NKTOB and Ralph Macchio of The Karate Kid, for example, spoke to young love. At the age of 12, however, I desperately wanted to be cool and felt that I was anything but. And Steven, to me, was cool. He was talking about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Steven and the music of Aerosmith that made me feel that same giddy excitement as a Jordan Knight, but also fueled my desire to be a little wild. And for the first time, it made me feel cool.
Though the obsessions of 12-year-olds are often fleeting, my obsession with Aerosmith – and Steven Tyler in particular – was different, continuing throughout my teen years and into early adulthood. I saw Aerosmith live for the first time when I was about 17, and two of my friends got engaged during “Angel.” I’ll never forget that moment: my friend Jeremy waiting for the right time, getting on his knee and asking Veronica to marry him.
After finally seeing the band perform live, my next goal was to meet the man himself. In 2003, my sister and I went to the nicest hotel in Birmingham, Alabama to try and meet Aerosmith and—in a funny twist—accidentally met Nick Lachey (of boy band 98 Degrees) and his brother, Drew, instead. Aerosmith was supposed to perform in Birmingham but had canceled, and we didn't know that Jessica Simpson (Nick Lachey’s then-wife) was also in town. There were several young girls in the lobby when we showed up (which seemed a little odd – I was well aware that most adolescents didn’t share my Steven Tyler obsession), but I didn't think much of it until the elevator doors opened and Jessica stepped out. With all due respect to her, I don't think I've ever been more disappointed!
I did manage to take my sister to see Aerosmith a year or so later, and I got so excited when Steven came out on the stage catwalk close to us that I threw my sunglasses at him. Unsurprisingly, this move would not get me invited backstage, and I spent the ensuing 13 years trying and failing to get facetime with Steven. Some people I know have bumped into him randomly in hotels or on the street, and I had a feeling that wouldn’t happen to me – but it didn't stop me from trying. Over the years I arrived hours before shows hoping to see his car pull in, bought tickets as close to the stage as I could, made signs, talked to friends of friends of friends who might know someone who could take me backstage, and so on. I came so close so many times that the last time I was left high and dry, in 2015, I cried.
So in 2016, I decided it was time: I went with my husband and son to Dallas, Texas for a meet-and-greet that I happily paid for. Friends, you know you’re doing all right when your spouse tells you it’s ok to kiss the man of your dreams – and kiss Mr. Tyler I did! It was sweet and special and worth every missed opportunity up to that point. People say you shouldn’t meet your heroes or people you really admire because they could let you down, but he did not disappoint.
We all have our special things – people, music, food, whatever. Sometimes we keep our obsessions secret for fear of being made fun of. When something is so personal we protect it, almost as if it were a child. To have something you love so much be scrutinized is difficult, to say the least. People have poked fun at me for blindly adoring this man, and that’s okay. Not everyone has to feel what I feel or think what I think – and I know Steven isn’t for everyone. The way I see it, whatever it is that you love, you should love without shame or fear or regret. Your one life is not meant to be lived in lukewarm sentiment. Get crazy for something or someone and let nothing stop you from loving it with your whole heart.
For me, the love and admiration I feel for Steven is happiness personified. He’s my outlet, my picture perfect fantasy, my forever boyfriend. He’s also a story of triumph – triumph over addiction, pain and loss. And he’s a story of rebirth and reinvention. Steven inspires me to push past fear and to not let being different or being on the fringe stand in my way. I hope you feel about someone or something the way I feel about him; he is my sweetest emotion, now and always.
Did You Know? Steven Tyler Facts:
Drug and alcohol addiction couldn’t take him.
He overcame a bout with Hepatitis C and treatment that nearly killed him.
He had surgery on those precious vocal chords and can still sing. Check out this episode of Incredible Human Machines.
He has created a charitable foundation, Janie’s Fund, to help girls who are victims of abuse and neglect.
He fights for the rights of songwriters.
He believes in protecting himself and his family from the prying eyes of paparazzi.
He is a father of four: Liv, Mia, Chelsea and Taj, and a grandfather of four: Milo, Sailor Gene, Lula Rose, and Axton.
His country album, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere debuted at #1 on the Top Country Albums chart in July 2016.
His mom used to sing Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” to him, and I sang it to my son:
There was a boy...
A very strange, enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he
And then one day
One magic day, he passed my way
And as we spoke of many things
Fools and Kings
This he said to me,
“The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return”
“The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.”